South African cement producer Pretoria Portland Cement on Friday announced the first production from its new Batsweledi kiln line at Dwaalboom, on the border of the Limpopo and the North West provinces.
PPC said that the new 1.25Mta kiln at Dwaalboom was fired up in the last weekend of September, and has successfully produced its first product this week.
The expansion project, which started in 2006, was said to have been completed within the R1.4bn budget. The commissioning was initially expected to start in the second quarter of 2008.
"The hard work in settling this state–of-the-art process down to achieve consistent availability and maximum output now begins," said PPC CEO John Gomersall.
PPC would advise shareholders of the impact of the new capacity on the coming financial year in its prospectus and outlook statement next month, the company stated.
South African cement producers are struggling to keep up with demand, which has grown nearly 60% over the last five years, driven by a construction boom.
To meet growing demand, PPC is also expanding and upgrading its Riebeeck cement factory in the Western Cape. The new plant will have a capacity of around 1,3-million tons a year, and is expected to be operational by 2012.
Meanwhile, PPC commended the safety record achieved during the 36 month construction period of the Batsweledi kiln line. At the project peak, almost 1 500 contract personnel were on site, in addition to the existing Dwaalboom team of about 300 people.
Over the three years only seven minor injuries were incurred and there were no fatalities.